Condé Nast is betting on virtual reality too


Condé Nast video head Dawn Ostroff kicked off her NewFronts presentation by saying of the glitzy publisher’s video strategy, “We made a decision to not do what everybody else is doing.” Still, the event contained a lot of the buzzwords that have already become familiar to attendees’ ears, from virtual reality to social platforms to millennials. (In Condé Nast’s case, make that “cultured millennials,” which it defined as young people with a job.)

The publisher of luxe titles such as Vanity Fair and Vogue offered a sneak peak of a previously announced six-episode VR series in development that’s due out in September, called “Invisible.” Condé Nast is joining the ranks of publishers that are spending on VR and its more accessible cousin, 360-degree video, on the belief that advertisers are ready to get on board. “Clearly, VR is going to be a big part of our studio going forward,” Ostroff said.

While Condé Nast’s message to ad buyers is still focused on the premium quality of its video content, from feature films to social clips, it’s increasingly acknowledging the reality that it needs to distribute those videos wherever people may see them, which today increasingly means their social feeds.

To that end, sales head Lisa Valentino announced that Condé Nast’s video would “transcend all screens,” with new video ad products designed to work on all platforms and that it would “lean heavily” into social, commerce and influencers. The company boasted its videos now live on 50-plus platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Still, the demand to create and distribute videos on social platforms has frustrated publishers that are restricted by the same platforms in their ability to sell advertising against their content. That’s especially true for a company like Condé Nast, which is known to not spare expenses when it comes to content production.

That’s perhaps why Condé Nast isn’t giving up on The Scene, the hub it launched as a repository for its video two years ago. The Scene strategy has been a head-scratcher to some, as people already have settled into video viewing habits on other platforms like YouTube and Facebook. So today, the company announced it was rebooting The Scene with mobile users in mind as well as launching a companion iTunes app for heavy video viewers.

Traffic to The Scene can’t make Condé Nast happy; in March, it had 5.7 million unique visitors, down 30 percent from a year ago and from a peak of more than 13 million in November of the year before, according to comScore. But at least Condé Nast can keep all the revenue it makes there, while, as one publisher there groused, “I haven’t made any money” on Facebook.

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